There is always a fair bit of work involved in a celebratory Hugs Fleet. We try to go somewhere special, we give stuff away, we aim to include an educational component. Because of Johnny's special plans and my treasure hunt, this one was particularly time-consuming. All told, I spent about 20 hours on it and Johnny spent 10 to 12 hours. Prep consumed the majority of that time. In the week preceding the op, my main tasks were to:
- Track prize donations and send thank you notes to donators
- Help coordinate schedules and support
- Work out treasure hunt process and prizes
- Draft a comprehensive instructions and tracking post for the treasure hunt (which ended up being almost 7k words!)
- Anchor a test container at a location off-grid from a celestial and work with Johnny to ensure it could be reached using only d-scan
- Anchor a total of 20 password-protected secure containers in low sec systems across as many regions as possible
In addition to helping me with the treasure hunt test, Johnny:
- Staged and fitted 100 Hugs Fleet doctrine ships in Thera (which a failed Iteron delivery did not deter!)
- Coordinated schedules and worked out plans with key players
- Moved a cyno alt into place
- Did route planning and last minute re-routing
- Managed fleet day prep and festivities in space prior to fleet departure
During the fleet, Johnny FC'd (and continued to co-FC after he met with unfortunate circumstances mid-roam). After the fleet op concluded, I oversaw the treasure hunt, purchased treasure hunt prize items, and ensured that the 60-odd prizes from the roam giveaways and treasure hunt found their way into the hands of the winners.
Yes, it was a lot of work. But when everything comes together according to plan and people have fun, it is totally worth it. Why? As Johnny says: "First of all, it's fun to plan an event that I know will be enjoyable for our members. Second, it's fun to participate in fleets like this. Finally, it's entertaining when plans don't work out precisely and the whole fleet just takes everything--including ship and pod loss--in stride. Seeing everyone's maturity, good humor, and the credo in action at those times is fulfilling." I feel the same way. Our members are extremely generous in helping each other and particularly new players. Organizing these special Hugs Fleet roams is our way of returning the favor and hopefully inspiring others to organize their own fun events.
So did all this effort pay off? You betcha! Prep and plans were all wrapped up an hour or two before start time. The fleet went up and we had somewhere between 35 and 40 members join. A few of us sat in station to hand out ships while excitement began to build due to Johnny's hints of what was to come.
"Why are we getting an Infomorph Psychology book with the ship?" asked one new member.
"You'll see. Just inject it and train it to at least Level 1." replied Johnny. He likes to play his cards close to his chest in order to give our newbros fun learning surprises on fleet ops. Our more experienced players smiled at the implications.
As an incentive to join fleets early so that ops can leave on time, we usually have a fun little treasure hunt in Thera before departure. Everyone undocks and gets to random safes, then Johnny dumps a set of bookmarks into a Corp bookmarks folder and pulls the trigger. There's a mad dash to be first to grab loot from the cans at the bookmarks. Loot typically consists of collectible trinkets, Sisters gear, implants, and other items useful to explorers. This tends to get everyone excited and hearts pumping, which is the best state in which to begin a Hugs Fleet roam!
With everyone chomping at the bit, our FC--who may well be the calmest, politest, most instructive FC I've ever seen--called the op start. Member Captain Ace Rico produced a video of the roam which does a better job than I ever could of showing the fun we had. Go watch it.
How awesome was that? Our most heartfelt thanks to Phoebe Freeport Republic for their freeports with jump clone installation capabilities and to Otto Bismarck of Pandemic Legion for providing us the opportunity for a memorable experience with the greatest of all ships in EVE.
|Hugging Phoebe Freeport Republic--thanks for the jump clones! (Image by Stikkem Innagibblies)|
|OMG it's a Titan! (Image by Stikkem Innagibblies)|
Once the remnants of our fleet bridged through to Doril, I announced the "Dangerous Places" Treasure Hunt, posted instructions, and gave fleet members a 10-minute head start before sending a corp email about it to everyone. It seemed our intrepid explorers still had energy to burn as they raced across New Eden to the far-flung low sec systems where I had hidden containers with prize vouchers in them. Along the way, they used their Google-fu to figure out container passwords using the clues provided. Once in the target systems, explorers had to use their d-scan skills to narrow down the off-grid location of each container and manually fly to it. It was great fun on comms listening to the excitement, frustration, and determination to find these cans.
Their effort was well-rewarded. The vouchers were good for things like Asteros, sets of 6% scanning implants, Stratioses (Stratii?), Sisters gear, ISK and collectibles, one of Rixx Javix' battlecruiser posters, and a character portrait by yours truly. Any idea I had of this event lasting a day or more was obliterated by the competitive nature of our members. Most of the containers were discovered within an hour and all had been looted within about two hours. Remarkably, only one can was MIA and I think that happened because I forgot to anchor it and it got junked at DT.
Participants had a great time with this Treasure Hunt and provided useful feedback to inform the next one--which will be a lot harder! I was really thrilled by one member who said she didn't know how to use d-scan before the treasure hunt and got so good at it thanks to the "just in time" practice that she ended up helping someone else learn to d-scan! That, friends, is op success.
So the festivities for our 500 Member Celebratory Hugs Fleet concluded with a bunch of tired, happy explorers. We had a lot of laughs on comms, corp camaraderie, and fun times but also--and maybe more importantly--gave a few very new players a great introduction to EVE Online. One that I hope sucks them in and makes the game and its potential irresistible. I beat this drum a lot but the message is important. How we treat new players matters. It has a very real impact on our corp culture, on the wider community, and (I believe) on the sustainability of the game itself. Our goal in Signal Cartel is to give new players a solid start, fun experiences, and peeks here and there into the bigger game outside our corporation. They may stay with us or ultimately move on but either way, we do the best we can to prepare them for whatever path they choose and hopefully both the community and the game ultimately benefit from that.
For that alone, the effort is worth it. It matters.
Shout-outs to a few individuals who provided donations or special support to this event:
- robertbobo Orlenard, Breysyth Asythe, Gaston Cartier, Foolproof Kado, Edohatrem Inur, and Helios Anduath for random drawing prize donations
- Johnny Splunk, Hugs Fleet FC darling
- k98sniper, Hugs Fleet Hero FC
- Edohatrem Inur, Sentosa Erata, and Selvien Mieyli for scouting
- Dorian Reu for handling the random drawings for prizes during the fleet op
- Everyone who helped newbros in fleet with private mentoring convos
- luobote kong, former and forever honorary Signal Cartel member, for joining us
- Captain Ace Rico for superb videography
- Otto Bismarck for arranging Titan love for us and talking with members afterwards to provide eye-opening insights on what it's like to be a big league player in New Eden